Pediasure – Is this Really What Kids Need to Grow?

Pediasure - are you sure?

Says this Fooducate blogger:

Our 9 year old daughter is very small for her age. She has been falling off the growth charts for the past 5 years. All our kids are small, as my wife and I were in our childhood, so at first we were not too alarmed. We have been to regular appointments with doctors and dietitians in order to assess if our daughter’s situation warrants non-food intervention. In several of these sessions, the health professional recommended Pediasure.

For those of you who don’t know, Pediasure is a liquid nutrition product for kids, manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Abbott. According to the company:

Pediasure is clinically proven to help kids grow … Each delicious shake provides 7g protein and 25 vitamins and minerals. Each kid-approved flavor comes in a reclosable bottle – perfect for kids on the go…and on the grow!

It all sounds good until you dive into the nutrition and ingredient details.

A serving is one cup, and has 240 calories. There are 80 calories from fat, 25 from protein, and the remaining 135 are from carbohydrates. The carb breakdown is just 1 gram of fiber, and 18 grams of sugar. That’s the equivalent of 4.5 teaspoons of sugar. No wonder children love this drink, it’s much sweeter than plain milk!

Here is the ingredient list:

Water, Sugar, Corn Maltodextrin, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Milk Protein Concentrate, Canola Oil, Soy Protein Isolate, Pea Protein Concentrate. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Cellulose Gel, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Calcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Tuna Oil, Potassium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, Salt, Potassium Hydroxide, m-Inositol, Carrageenan, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, L-Carnitine, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Lutein, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Molybdate, Phylloquinone, Vitamin D3, and Cyanocobalamin.

After water, the most prominent ingredient is sugar! It is followed by cornmaltodextrin (GMO), which is used as a thickener in soft drinks, salad dressings and soups.

The fats in this drink are derived from safflower oil and canola oil (GMO). Can you imagine your child drinking oil in order to help her grow?

The proteins are derived from milk, soy, and peas as isolates and concentrates. This means the original, healthy whole food is deconstructed and highly processed, losing its beneficial nutrients. Milk protein concentrate is a cheap ingredient often imported from China, with little to no quality inspection or regulation.

Not that you would expect it in this product, but the vanilla flavor is entirely fake, added as natural & artificial ingredients.

The laundry list of vitamins and minerals following the main ingredients may seem alluring at first, but the bio-availability of these nutrients is not quite impressive. Isolating specific vitamins and introducing them into the body in pill, liquid, or supplement form does not guarantee they will be absorbed. A large percentage may find its way into your child’s urine.

Parents to picky eaters and small children may become enamored with Pediasure as a quick and easy fix. It may help “fatten up” your child at first. But the dependance it creates can lead to long-term problems including poor eating habits. The clinical trials Abbott refers to were conducted on children at risk for malnutrition, which is not the case in typical American homes.

As for our family, we are seeing a dietitian who is in line with our whole foods philosophy. She is helping us work with our daughter to find the foods that can help her grow while teaching her to eat real food. Examples include extra amounts of avocado (which she loves), varied nut butters (learning to like), and tahini (work in progress).


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